general Khalifa Haftar

Forces loyal to renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar on Wednesday claimed to have captured a major outpost from rival Islamists in the restive eastern city of Benghazi.

general Khalifa HaftarBrigadier Mohammed Hegazi, a spokesman for Haftar, said that his troops were in full control of the November 17 Battalion after battling Islamist militiamen in Bengazi’s western district of Qar Yunis.

“The army troops killed 18 terrorists, one of them was from Mali,” Hegazi told the allied broadcaster Libya First, referring to the Islamists.

He added that Haftar’s forces “liberated” other military posts amid a major military offensive against hardline Islamists.

However, the Islamist militia Rafallah al-Sahti Brigade denied losing the November 17 camp to Haftar’s troops, Libyan news site al-Wasat reported.

Benghazi is the birthplace of the 2011 armed revolt that deposed longtime dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

The city has been gripped by tensions since May when Haftar launched a military campaign against Islamist militias. Both sides have since been locked in deadly fighting.

On Tuesday, Haftar said his forces were prepared for driving out Islamists from Benghazi, raising fears of further violence.

The latest unrest comes hours before mass protests are set to begin in Benghazi to demand the disarmament of Islamist militias. Organized by civil society groups, the rallies are dubbed the “October 15 Uprising.”

Rival militias have battled for months among themselves in Libya, mainly in Benghazi and the capital Tripoli. The unrest has prompted several countries to evacuate their citizens and diplomats from the North African country.


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